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Plastics Pact set direction for European circular economy

An attempt to harmonise and accelerate the Europe-wide development of a circular economy for plastics is the goal of a new ‘European Plastics Pact Roadmap’.

The strategy has been published by the European Plastics Pact, which was launched in March by the Netherlands, France and Denmark. It comprises 15 national governments, 82 businesses, three regional governments and 43 other organisations, including business/trade associations and NGOs. The European Plastics Pact is part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s global Plastics Pact network.

The roadmap has four targets:

  • Design for reusability and recyclability – Design all plastic packaging and single-use plastic products placed on the market to be reusable where possible and in any case recyclable by 2025.
  • Responsible use of plastics – Aiming to reduce virgin plastic products and packaging by at least 20% (by weight) by 2025, with half of this reduction coming from an absolute reduction in plastics.
  • Collection, sorting and recycling – Increase capacity by at least 25 percentage points by 2025 and reach a level that corresponds to market demand for recycled plastics.
  • Use of recycled plastics – Plastics user companies achieving an average of at least 30% recycled plastics (by weight) in their product and packaging range by 2025.

The UK sustainability charity WRAP is acting as secretariat and providing technical support. Ceo Marcus Gover says the aim of the roadmap is to tackle the key environmental issue of plastic pollution. ‘It will mobilise signatories to act, and focus on key outcomes that deliver these ambitious targets. It will transform our use of plastics across Europe, just as we’re doing in the UK through the first Plastic Pact.’

Hanneke Faber, president, global foods and refreshment, Unilever, adds, ‘This roadmap gives a clear direction of travel for the European Plastic Pact. One where we can find new ways across the value chain to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic packaging in line with our Unilever commitments.’ 

In total, 51.2 million tonnes of plastic was used in Europe in 2018 of which 40% was packaging. The European Plastics Pact covers all plastic packaging and single-use plastics products consumed in European Economic Area and in the Member States of the European Free Trade Association, regardless of place of production.

‘The European Plastics Pact provides an important forerunner platform for close collaboration among the Plastics Pact partners accelerating the shift towards a circular bio-economy for plastics by 2025,’ says Mercedes Alonso, executive vice president, renewable polymers and chemicals, Nestle.

‘The publication of the roadmap is an important milestone in our efforts to speed up this comprehensive sustainability transformation that will require the utilisation of all the available renewable and circular technologies and solutions.’

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